IS looking forward to LinuxWorld

In October 1995, a small Boston trade show called Internet World turned into a watershed in enterprise computing. Next week's LinuxWorld Conference and Expo promises the same type of turning point, this time for an upstart operating system.

Hewlett-Packard will lead a list of more than a dozen key developers and hardware makers at the San Jose, California, conference pledging to create and support Linux-based products. HP, not to be outdone by IBM's broad Linux rollout, will detail its own system, software and service initiatives for Linux. At the centre of HP's plans is a new division called the Open Source Solutions Operation.

For systems, the Californian company plans to add Linux support to its PA-RISC high-end servers to complement previously announced plans for Linux on its NetServers and on Intel's 64-bit IA-64 platform. The PA-RISC support is unique in that HP is relying on an independent entity, The Puffin Group, to develop Linux-based PA-RISC servers. HP is providing Puffin with hardware, technical support and documentation, but not cash, said Wayne Caccamo, head of HP's Open Source Solutions Operation.

The Puffin connection is a direct challenge to some critics' argument that the Linux development community is too diffuse and unorganised for enterprise vendors and users to effectively deploy and manage their tools. "We see this as potentially an indication of how things get done in the future," Caccamo said.

On the software side, HP views Linux as a primary development language, especially for service provider customers. HP will contribute software to the open-source community and plans further ports of its own applications to Linux. The company already supports its service-level management application, Firehunter, on Linux, but others will follow. "You can anticipate applications like [OpenView] will be moving to Linux, but we haven't worked out the exact timing," Caccamo said.

In addition, HP will announce Web-based training for Linux administrators and developers and extend its electronic support infrastructure to include Linux. HP has an alliance with commercial Linux vendor Red Hat Software Inc., but HP could follow IBM's lead in pushing myriad Linux distributions to further foster competition, Caccamo indicated.

Other vendors at the show, including Computer Associates International, Oracle and Infoseek will also demonstrate commitment to Linux as an enterprise-ready operating system.

Other LinuxWorld announcements will include the following: Caldera Systems of Utah, will show a Linux-based Internet router and RAID storage system, which it co-developed with Hellius and MTI Technology respectively. Cygnus Solutions, of Sunnyvale, California, will optimise its Linux developer tools for the Pentium II architecture. Cobalt Networks, of Mountain View, California, will unveil a new Linux-based network-attached storage device, dubbed NASRaQ, and an upgraded Internet appliance, called RaQ2.